Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hrumphingly hrumphy hrumphed.

So I'm reading all those wonderful comments from yesterday and I feel ... hrumphy. Uncomfortable. Squirmy. Like a squinched up pad. (Since I started last week, and all ....)

And I want to make something perfectly clear.

WE have a microwave. And a washing machine. And a dryer. And two cars. And five bedrooms. And we travel. A lot. And we have movies. A lot.

I'm not against wealth. I'm not even against STUFF. I'm against BUYING stuff when you DON'T HAVE MONEY. And also buying stuff when you never help other people buy stuff who don't have stuff.

That is all.

Sorry.

So to make sure you don't think I'm all holier-than-thou, Ms. Self-Righteous Let Me Just Preach to the World, I'm going to tell you something that will definitely lower myself in your eyes.

My neighbors think I abuse my children.

No. Seriously. It's true.

First let me begin by saying that IN GENERAL Brazilians tend to be on the permissive side of the parenting gap. (Don't get all huffy, Brazilians Who Read This, you know it's true.) I don't know how many times I've been told I'm a bad mother because my kids have nap times. And rules. And I do things like limit sugar intake. Bad, bad mother.

It also helps that my neighbor has only one son, while I have three. And her son is thirty-five years old, while mine are 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and nine months.

So let's go back a few years to when I was potty-training Little Prince. My first. We had talked up the Big Potty, gotten out our sticker charts, bought incentives (read: treats), and we were down to the last diaper. It was time.

The first two days were surprisingly simple. LP was thoroughly excited about being a big boy, and though we had some accidents, he was enthusiastic about the New Deal.

Enter third day.

That morning, he simply didn't want to wear underwear.

I told him in a chipper, saleslady voice that UNDERWEAR was awesome. SO awesome. Diapers are Zero Fun, Sir. He didn't buy it. His voice started to rise and the feet started to tap and I knew we were gearing up for a full on temper tantrum.

And .... he blew.

Above his screams, I informed him that he had two choices: 1) wear underwear or 2) go naked.

I left him to think about his life while I went to get myself and Ouro Branco ready for the day.

Ten minutes go by (all of which were spent screaming - him, not me. Yet.) and I offered him his choices again. Ya know, just in case he forgot. He was disinclined to acquiesce my request. And let me know at the top of his lungs.

Another ten minutes. I offered the choices. Another ten minutes. Choices again. Another ten minutes.

After the fourth negotiation session, I walked out of LP's bedroom to find a man standing in my kitchen.

Understandably, I screamed.

Which scared this man half to death.

He was one of the condominium guards, sent there by our neighbor. She had called to report that I was either abusing my son or had left him home alone.

"No abuse here! Just potty training ...." (*sheepish, watery grin*)

And I still can't look my neighbor in the eye.

41 comments:

Kristina P. said...

It's so interesting to bridge the parenting gap among cultures.

I've worked in social services for 10 years, including DCFS, and different cultural beliefs were tough. Especially in the Polynesian cultures, where physical discipline is just how things are done.

I've gathered that you are an amazing parent.

LisAway said...

That's so funny. Bad mommy! :)

Erin said...

What a scary moment, to have someone in your house you haven't invited in!

I'm glad Little Prince finally potty trained.

Amber @ Soggy Cheerios said...

Ack! I would have screamed too! Potty training comes at the worst time- kids are so stubborn at 2 and 3, which is when they're supposed to potty train!

Now I need to read your previous post...

gina said...

I would have screamed as well! Hey, that little picture on your sidebar of the cake that you live in Brazil for, do you have a reciepe somewhere? It looks yummy.
If that lady was so concerned, why didn't she trot herself over to check things out? She's got it in for you!:)

Annette Lyon said...

I was thinking about that last post today in connection w/ a conversation I had with someone else awhile back. They're always wanting the next technie toy or a better car or whatever. I'd said that it was sad they couldn't be content and happy with what they had, and I pretty much got lambasted with, "There's nothing wrong with wanting more."

But you know, I think there IS something wrong with that mentality, because at no point with the "stuff" be enough. You'll always be unhappy, wanting more.

I'd rather have less but be happy, thanks. (Although I love my microwave and washer . . .)

SO said...

We are considered the strict parents around here. My kids' friends come over and try to get away with crap and are flabbergasted when I call them on it and don't let them get away with stuff. I can't even imagine how hard it would be having to deal with a whole different culture.

Korbi said...

too much, just to omuch, i was grinning through the whole thing. I too am potty training right now and it feels as though I have drug it out for far too long! Argh! Aren't Lightning McQueen underwear so cool that you'd want to wear them ALL the time??? Hmmm....

Real Mom, Real Life said...

Wow -- you let your kid scream??? I can't believe it! HA!! My kids have meltdowns regularly where I just let them go -- I get the most awful looks. A friend of mine actually had someone scold her at the post office for not giving in to her tantruming child. The nerve! Anyhoo -- sounds like you are a good mommy.

And for what it is worth, I loved your post yesterday and understood the jist of the message! I didn't think you were being "holier than thou"

janae said...

oh, NUH-UH. She did not call the security guard. That is so shocking I'm not sure how I should feel about it ... offended? upset? angry?

I definitely can see the permissive parenting trend. Although ironically I have a Brazilian neighbor here who is ultra protective and she thinks I am suuuuuuper laid back. I guess it doesn't help that she once found my two year old wandering around in front of her apartment ... a floor up and a hundred feet over from where I live. I swear, I have a good excuse! :)

Kimberly said...

I'm just going to say a big ole DITTO to what Annette said, she put my feelings into words perfectly.

I get scowled at for being firm with my kids too. There's a family in our branch who don't discipline their kids at all, and who gave me a dirty look when I had the nerve to stop their daughter from whacking mine over the head. With a STICK.

Oi.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

I hope my comment didn't make you feel hrumphy. It's honestly something that I struggle with quite a bit. Your post didn't seem holier than thou at all. As for the potty training incident, if a security guard showed up every time one of my kids screamed I'd probably tell him that he might as well move in! And for some reason I find it highly amusing that you tell the internet world about your cycle starting. ;o) Also, I second the request for the Brazilian cake recipe. And....I think that's it...

Carla said...

don't really know how to answer this one since I'm on the other side as a Brazilian and all . . . humn . . .

well, to your defense I still think you are pretty cool. To your general defense I can see how some things are different but most if not all the Brazilians I was around enforced curfews on their kids and were very strict about what they ate just like I am with my daughter due to being taught that way as well.

The funny thing is that I've been called HERE in the US before while living in UTAH for thinking I was hurting my daughter due to her having a tantrum of sorts because I refused to let her eat the all the candy she got for Halloween and she screamed and I sent her to her room and she was banging on the door (first and only time she did that really). But regardless I had a UT County police men at my daughter wondering if all was ok and that a neighbor called to make sure all was going allright.

Humn . . . and I've NEVER laid a hand on my daughter, I don't even condone the spanking, tapping on the bum thing.

Here I get the whole, latin woman facade and neighbor must of thought that there she goes into her whole 'latin loco' thing. So I guess what I'm trying to say is - you can get this everywhere I suppose. But I do feel your pain but in an opposite way over the same thing.

Interesting don't ya think?

Tiffany said...

I hope that my comment didn't make you feel bad either. I love stuff too (I keep telling myself that I could not live without a washing machine these days), I just sometimes would like to get away from the "You must have everything ever" culture for awhile..and then move back and appreciate everything that I have all over again. :) My husband is probably the stingiest person I know (I love and hate that about him all at the same time), and he has taught me the true difference between needs and wants and we definitely believe in wants...as long as we can afford it and have really thought about the purchase. So, we loved your post. We didn't think it was holier than thou at all.

Secondly, you gotta love tantruming kids, right? Mine freaked out for 10 minutes at the library last week and I have an infant too and was having a difficult time getting both of them out and I had people coming up to me and looking at me like I was obviously torturing my child...I just smiled and waved. That's all you can do sometimes....

Tobi said...

Love your movie quote reference to Pirates to the Carribean. HILARIOUS!

My little man would hide and poop in the closet rather than face the vulgar potty and all it's implied horridness. Luckily we don't have pets so I KNEW it was him!! He did grow out of it though!

Julie said...

You are a way better person than I (or is it me? who cares)! I would have been PO'd majorly and to have someone just walk into my house would have been too much for me. I not only would be looking the lady in the eye, I'd probably be glaring at her each time.

But your information on Brazilian parenting is interesting. I have several friends here in the states who are from Brazil and some things have suddenly started to make sense...

trublubyu said...

potty training is the least favorite of my mommy duties. and then to have someone in my home uninvited might just rank right up there with icky.

thanks for the chuckle.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I've noticed that most women who have children over the age of thirty generally think that any mom who does anything discipline-related is an abusive horrible mom, or they think that they are a horrible, overly-permissive mom. Once their children are grown, they simply forget what it's like. And I agree with the whole don't be too dependant on wordly things philosophy, but I thank my lucky stars I was not born a pioneer. :)

gigi said...

Remember this is your blog. We come because we want to hear what you have to say. Your words yesterday were very inspiring and had us look at our hearts and our lives. You were right to share with us your thoughts and observations.

AS for potty training, they all seem to get it in their own time with a little push and help from us, but think about it... you never see a kid in kindergarden wearing a diaper :)

Melonie said...

This made me laugh to myself a little, because of our cultural situation. Imagine having your 7 yo child throw a tantrum in an aquarium (yes, literally a screaming stomping tantrum) in front of several hundred Japanese people ....because she didn't get to touch a starfish.

Yes, seriously.

If you are now imagining my face looking like Mt. Fuji about to blow SKY HIGH as I tried to keep my voice low and drag her to a slightly out of the way corner (without looking like I was dragging her) .... well, let me just say I'm with ya on the bad mommy thing. heehee I can laugh about it now but ohhhhhhh I was so tempted to just leave her there with the starfish she wasn't allowed to touch. *cackle*

Not like parents today don't have enough pressure from society - throw in a second society and set of societal expectations/obligations and WOOWEE it's a circus.

I really feel for the poor security guy though. He's lucky you weren't coming out of the kitchen with a butcher knife or something. ;-)

Becca said...

1. I must read comments on last post, they sounds mildly amusing.

2. Don't Brazilians know that kids can't control the volume of their screams until the age of 3? I swear some speech language expert said that sometime. I figure that's why primary starts with 3 year olds instead of younger. *cue screaming*

Melonie said...

PS I forgot to give you huge amounts of applause for THIS: "I'm against BUYING stuff when you DON'T HAVE MONEY. And also buying stuff when you never help other people buy stuff who don't have stuff."

YOU. GO. GIRL.

Mmmhmm, that's right. SING IT.

(in other words, I agree wholeheartedly on those two lines) :-P

Jan the crazy lady said...

They need to lighten up and realize that half the women in prison were in there because of potty training. It drives us to do things....

So funny.

Kristi said...

We must be on the same pae because I totally understood what you meant in the last post! Don't spend money you don't have on things you don't need;)
I love the potty training story... you just gotta love it, ya know?

wonder woman said...

I have often times thought my neighbors think the same of me. Luckily, we're too scared in the States to actually confront people about it. (At least in my 'hood.)

Mrs. M said...

Hi, I'm new and I'm not lurking:)

Your potty training story reminded me of a similar incident at our house. My DEAR son wanted someone to lift him off the toilet and I was done with the pampering. He sat in the bathroom and screamed and cried and raged for nearly an hour (windows were open): "HELP! MOM! DAD, HELP!" He finally settled down and got himself down and pulled up his pants and moved on to playing quietly with something. Moments later, there was a knock at our door and two nice police officers were there. A concerned neighbor reported that a child had been screaming and calling for help and they were coming to investigate.

Ah, the joys of parenting...

Also, I'm with you on the money thing. I don't have it, so I don't spend it, but when I do have some, I will spend some:)

Mommadj5 said...

Although I have heard this story before and think the neighbor should have checked things out herself - let's be grateful that at least she DID something!! The other side of the fence is that sometimes someone is actually hurting their child, or the child IS left alone and no one does anything. Put yourself in her shoes - you hear a child screaming for a good 20-30 minutes - what would you do??? P.S. I also LOL at the pirate's line - wonderful!!

Melanie J said...

I'm still not sure if nosy neighbors are a curse or a blessing in disguise.

Deb said...

I live in southeast Texas, and we have a real blend of cultures: different American backgrounds, Asian cultures, and a multitude of Latin American cultures. Parenting is a big cultural mark, in my experience. Something I've noticed is that there are some cultures that seem to be permissive when the child is young, then clamp down when they start school, and then others where they are very strict when the child is young, and then they sort of back off when the child start school.

I'm just crazy.

Brooke said...

I love how honest you are. It is so refreshing. I would've screamed at an unidentified man in my house, too!

The Motherboard said...

When I was potty training my oldest, my neighbor came and asked me if I needed a time out because she had been screaming for so long... and she thought I had been beating her.

Niiiice.

I 100% agree with Annette-- she said what I was thinking perfectly! (

Abra said...

I hate toilet training, I've been trying to toilet train kai for four years now... no dice yet ugh!

Stepper the Mighty said...

After all these comments, I'm terrified of potty training the Fish!

I don't wanna go to jaaaaail!

Actually, alla you women inspire me.

The mantra of motherhood (and womanhood) is, after all, "Do Hard Things", yes?

:: rolls up sleeves :: potty training, here we go!

Kazzy said...

That is too bad about your neighbors. And I totally got what you were saying in your other post.

kerri said...

It's been so interesting - your last post, this post, and all the comments on both. We tried not to live too fancily when we were in Brazil (and man, what we saved has helped us for years back home) and I can totally second your observations on some (most) Brazilians' homes & attitudes... BUT, I also have to acknowledge another poster stting that some Brazilians are as consumery-greedy as anyone anywhere.

And as for the parenting thing... I think I fall on Carla (the Brazilian)'s side that this is more an issue of being the "outsider" than a difference in cultural child-rearing. Your skin & native tongue is different, so you're watched more easily & curiously. I did always wonder how ALL of my Brazilian friends had their kids potty trained by 18 months with NO PROBLEMS. That needs a serious study behind it. (Sorry for the loooong comment.)

Shauna said...

LOL! I miss you! Hope you are doing well! ♥ Hugs :)

Jill said...

I really enjoyed both of these posts:)

Rachel said...

Oh, I'm glad our neighbors aren't nosy. We have had many 20 minutes screaming fests around here.

Boy Mom said...

Wow! thirty-eight comments, you are getting so popular! You deserve it your posts are funny, inspirational and thought provoking.

Thanks for sharing your experiences they help put my spoiled American life into perspective.

Potty training...insert thumbscrews, and...go! Uggh, my least favorite part of mothering.

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Well said. I think living within your means is so important. My father taught me that if I didn't have the money for it, then I shouldn't buy it. And if we have it, we have to help those who don't.

Oh gosh, I wouldn't feel any need for explaning how you raise your children. I have no business speculating on this here because I don't have kids and am not close to many people who do here, but I've heard ex-pats agree that Brazilian children don't get much discipline. Certainly not true for all, but for a lot. We had the most horrible neighbors in the world our first year here. There children were just awful. Completely spoiled and they had their mom totally under their control. I hated seeing it, really.

Harmony said...

My son chose the go naked option and it didn't work so well. I found a #2 hidden in the corner and one on my patio. We are still a work in progress, who knows what else I am going to find.

About that guy in your house I would have freaked!

I love your blog so I added a link to my blog I hope that is ok.